Today's Liberal News

Jacob Stern

Fish Oil Is Good! No, Bad! No, Good! No, Wait

At first, it was all very exciting. In 1971, a team of Danish researchers stationed on Greenland’s northwest coast found that a local Inuit community had remarkably low levels of diabetes and heart disease. The reason, the researchers surmised, was their high-marine-fat diet—in other words, fish oil. Incidence of heart disease, which once afflicted relatively few Americans, had shot up since the turn of the century, and here, seemingly, was a simple solution.

Fish Oil Is Good! No, Bad! No, Good! No, Wait

At first, it was all very exciting. In 1971, a team of Danish researchers stationed on Greenland’s northwest coast found that a local Inuit community had remarkably low levels of diabetes and heart disease. The reason, the researchers surmised, was their high-marine-fat diet—in other words, fish oil. Incidence of heart disease, which once afflicted relatively few Americans, had shot up since the turn of the century, and here, seemingly, was a simple solution.

The World Is Burning Once Again

In September 2020, the United Kingdom’s Meteorological Office published a hypothetical weather forecast for a mid-July day in the year 2050. Forty degrees Celsius in London. (That’s 104 degrees Fahrenheit.) Thirty-eight in Hull (100 degrees F). Thirty-nine in Birmingham (102 degrees F). These were preposterous numbers, never before seen in U.K. weather forecasts, much less felt in reality—until last week.

Admit It, Squirrels Are Just Tree Rats

Ben Dantzer had spent several frustrating days trying to capture a single squirrel when the epiphany arrived. Dantzer, a rodent researcher at the University of Michigan, was standing in the Canadian Yukon, scrutinizing the uncooperative squirrel, which was perched high in a spruce tree. Then, all of a sudden, he felt as though he was looking at an optical illusion: When he viewed the squirrel one way, he saw a squirrel; when he viewed it another way, he saw a rat.

Admit It, Squirrels Are Just Tree Rats

Ben Dantzer had spent several frustrating days trying to capture a single squirrel when the epiphany arrived. Dantzer, a rodent researcher at the University of Michigan, was standing in the Canadian Yukon, scrutinizing the uncooperative squirrel, which was perched high in a spruce tree. Then, all of a sudden, he felt as though he was looking at an optical illusion: When he viewed the squirrel one way, he saw a squirrel; when he viewed it another way, he saw a rat.

Don’t Worry, It’s Not COVID

The maskless man a few rows back was coughing his head off. I had just boarded the train from D.C. to New York City a couple of weeks ago and, along with several other passengers, was craning my neck to get a look at what was going on. This was not the reedy dregs of some lingering cold. This was a deep, constant, full-bodied cough. Think garbage disposal with a fork caught inside.No one said anything to the man (at least to my knowledge).

Please Ignore My Last 577 Tweets

Updated at 5:38 p.m. on May 3, 2022.If you had told me last Wednesday afternoon, when my Twitter account had a grand total of three tweets and 200-something followers, that roughly 24 hours later the account would have tweeted 577 times and boosted its follower count to 42,000, I would not have believed you.

Obama: I Underestimated the Threat of Disinformation

When they last sat down for an interview, in November 2020, Barack Obama told Atlantic editor in chief Jeffrey Goldberg that disinformation is “the single biggest threat to our democracy.” The threat was not a new one, he said, but it was accelerating. It has continued to accelerate since. A month and a half after that conversation, a violent mob stormed the Capitol, driven by the false belief that the election had been stolen from Donald Trump and could be taken back by force.

Is Ukraine Barreling Toward a COVID Surge?

There is no good time for a war, but there are certainly bad ones. Even as Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine enters its second month and the civilian death toll nears 1,000, the pandemic churns on. In Europe and parts of Asia, cases have shot up in recent weeks. A new and seemingly more transmissible variant has emerged, as we always knew it eventually would.

Sports Leagues Are Showing Us Just How Bad Omicron Could Get

This article was updated at 11:39 p.m. ET on December 20, 2021.Just a few minutes before tip-off on Wednesday, March 11, 2020, the PA announcer for the Oklahoma City Thunder broke the news to the gathered fans: That night’s NBA game between the Thunder and the visiting Utah Jazz was canceled “due to unforeseen circumstances.” A Jazz player, it would soon come out, had tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

We Accidentally Solved the Flu. Now What?

Perhaps the oddest consolation prize of America’s crushing, protracted battle with the coronavirus is the knowledge that flu season, as we’ve long known it, does not have to exist.It’s easy to think of the flu as an immutable fact of winter life, more inconvenience than calamity. But each year, on average, it sickens roughly 30 million Americans and kills more than 30,000 (though the numbers vary widely season to season).

All These Simultaneous Disasters Are Messing With Our Brains

Last week, the psychologist Steven Taylor was at a socially distanced get-together with some relatives and their friends when the conversation turned to the chaos in Afghanistan. Someone mentioned the sickening footage of desperate Afghans clinging to American military aircraft as they departed. Then one man made a remark that caught Taylor off guard: The videos, he said, were funny. Others agreed.Taylor was appalled. It was one of the most disturbing things he’d heard all week.

That Other Reason You Might Feel Terrible Right Now

One morning in March, I woke up feeling horrible. Head: pressurized. Limbs: leaden. Nose: runny. Oh no, I thought, as I lay in bed. I rubbed my eyes. They were … itchy! I got up and went to the bathroom mirror. Red, too! Thank God, I thought. Allergies!I don’t usually get so excited about the onset of my seasonal allergies. Most years, it goes something like this: I wake up feeling sick. I assume it’s a cold.

There Is No One Pandemic Anniversary

It can begin almost imperceptibly, with the turning of the leaves or the first heat of summer, an ambient anxiety with no clear cause. Other times the feeling comes on suddenly, when a news story about the disaster’s anniversary stirs memories of trauma. Some people have nightmares or flashbacks. After 9/11, PTSD rates crested at the one-year mark. Psychologists call this phenomenon the “anniversary reaction.

Random People Are Lining Up to Get Vaccinated in D.C. Grocery Stores

It was anarchy at the deli counter. On Sunday afternoon in Washington, D.C.’s Shaw neighborhood, a couple dozen masked people had crowded into a corner of a Giant supermarket, where they swiveled their heads warily. As I approached them, a slightly haggard man in an orange down jacket stopped me. “Here for the extra vaccine doses?” asked the man, who was part of the group, not a Giant employee. He handed me a scrap of paper with the number 24 scrawled on it.

Two Disasters Are Exponentially Worse Than One

Eleven thousand lightning strikes, 370 wildfires, a pandemic, a heat wave, and rolling blackouts—California has endured a lot this week. Hundreds of thousands of acres have burned, and tens of thousands of people have had to evacuate. The largest of the blazes—the LNU Lightning Complex fires, which alone span Napa, Sonoma, Solano, and Lake Counties—is only 7 percent contained.One disaster is bad. Two are worse, but the damage doesn’t just double.

A Mental-Health Crisis Is Burning Across the American West

There’s a fire up north, the woman says, the Kincade Fire. It flickered into existence on the nighttime horizon, a shapeless brightness billowing into the sky. Now the wind’s whipping it south toward Santa Rosa. Evacuations are under way, and she worries her home will burn. Allison Chapman listens in silence. She’s modeling for a makeup demo when the woman walks into the studio, where Allison studied after moving south a couple of years ago, at 18.